New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire | MLS Match Preview

NEW YORK RED BULLS vs CHICAGO FIRE
RED BULL ARENA, Harrison, N.J.
Oct. 27, 2013 (WEEK 35, MLS Game #321)
5 p.m. ET (UniMás; MSG; My50 Chi)

The New York Red Bulls will be looking to secure the first major honor in the club’s history, while the Chicago Fire will be looking to make a return to the MLS Cup Playoffs, when the Eastern Conference foes meet Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls come into the match knowing a win will guarantee the best overall record in MLS, after their 3-0 win at the Houston Dynamo last weekend. The Fire also come in knowing a victory will clinch a top five spot in the East and a postseason berth, following their 1-0 home win vs. Toronto last weekend.

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REFEREE: Ismail Elfath. AR1 (bench): George Gansner; AR2 (opposite): Corey Rockwell; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero
MLS Career: 23 games; FC/gm: 24.4; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 6; pens: 7

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: CHI: Jeff Larentowicz (caution accumulation; through Oct. 27)
WARNINGS:
FINED NEXT YELLOW CARD: NY: Jamison Olave, Jonny Steele … CHI: Daniel Paladini, Gonzalo Segares
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (44 meetings): Red Bulls 12 wins, 49 goals … Fire 23 wins, 71 goals … Ties 9
AT NEW YORK (22 meetings): Red Bulls 9 wins, 29 goals … Fire 10 wins, 31 goals … Ties 3

  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Maicon Santos scored twice as the Fire claimed a 3-1 victory on April 7 at Red Bull Arena.
  • The Fire won the final meeting between the teams last season, a 2-0 win at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 6, their first away win in the series since the 2009 season. The Red Bulls have never won at Toyota Park.
  • Coaches record: Frank Klopas vs. NY: P6 W3 L1 D2 … Mike Petke v CHI: P1 W0 L1 D0

LAST MEETING (MLS)
4/7: CHI 3, NY 1 (Paladini 44; Maicon Santos 83, 89 – Olave 17)

  • The Red Bulls took the lead in the 17th minute. A half-cleared corner kick was back into the box by Brandon Barklage, and center back Jámison Olave scored his second goal of the season with an twisting overhead volley.
  • The Fire missed a tremendous opportunity to pull level eight minutes later when Jeff Larentowicz's shot hit Jonny Steele's hand in the penalty area and a spot kick was given, but Chris Rolfe put the attempt wide.
  • But Daniel Paladini brought the Fire back just before halftime. Hunter Jumper swung in a cross from out on the left flank, and Paladini lept in front of Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles and headed the ball into the net.
  • The Fire then snatched all the points with two late goal from substitute Maicon Santos. In the 83rd minute, he took a through pass from Paladini, beat Olave on a cutback move to the inside and poked a shot past Robles.
  • Santos sealed the win with his second goal in the 89th minute, after Larentowicz headed a Paladini free kick across the box, finding Santos open on the back post for a tap-in.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Wells Thompson, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Hunter Jumper - Jeff Larentowicz, Logan Pause - Daniel Paladini, Chris Rolfe (Corben Bone 87), Joel Lindpere (Michael Videira 93+) - Sherjill MacDonald (Maicon Santos 63).
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-1-1): Luis Robles - Brandon Barklage (Ruben Bover 87), Jamison Olave, Markus Holgersson, Heath Pearce - Eric Alexander, Juninho, Dax McCarty, Jonny Steele (Thierry Henry 61) - Tim Cahill - Peguy Luyindula (Lloyd Sam 76).

NEW YORK RED BULLS
The New York Red Bulls extended their undefeated run to seven matches, rolling to a 3-0 win against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Red Bulls are in sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference and the lead in the MLS overall table with 56 points from 33 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Red Bulls took the lead after eight seconds, the fastest goal from the opening kickoff in MLS history. From the opening kick, Dax McCarty lobbed a ball over the top to Tim Cahill, who brought it down and laced a shot past Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall from just outside the area.
  • New York scored a second in the 65th minute after Houston failed to clear a corner kick. Thierry Henry’s service pinged around the area until Ibrahim Sekagya headed past a stranded Hall from the right side of the goal area.
  • Ten minutes later second-half substitute Bradley Wright-Phillips sealed the result with some help from another failed clearance. Jermaine Taylor’s attempted blast into safety bounced off the head of an unsuspecting Corey Ashe and back into the penalty area, leaving Wright-Phillips a simple tap-in.
  • Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke made four changes to the team that grabbed a late 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution at Red Bull Arena. Ibrahim Sekagya and Brandon Barklage came into the back four in place of Kosuke Kimura and David Carney, and Eric Alexander and Peguy Luyindula came into the midfield, replacing Lloyd Sam and Fabian Espindola.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Luis Robles - Markus Holgersson, Jamison Olave, Ibrahim Sekagya, Brandon Barklage - Eric Alexander (Connor Lade 90), Dax McCarty, Peguy Luyindula, Jonny Steele (Lloyd Sam 80) - Tim Cahill (Bradley Wright-Phillips 62), Thierry Henry.

TEAM NEWS

  • With a victory vs. Chicago, or a tie and the failure of Sporting Kansas City to win, the Red Bulls will secure the Supporters’ Shield, emblematic of the best overall record in MLS, the first major honor in the club’s history.
  • “It means a lot,” said Tim Cahill.  “We were controlling our own destiny today before the game. It’s there for us to take and for us to throw away.”
  • The Red Bulls have now gone seven games without a loss, matching their longest undefeated streak this season (also April 26-May 26).
  • “We’ve done a lot with trying to reboot the mentality of this organization and this team and this is one of the places that we concentrated on because we have not been successful here,” said Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke. “A lot of that has to do with our mentality, but probably more has to do with how good Houston is and how good they’ve always been and how prepared [head coach Dominic Kinnear] gets the team. We’re fortunate these last two games to get good results through hard work and character.”
  • The Cahill goal, officially coming after 8 seconds, was the fastest in MLS history by 3 seconds, bettering the effort from Dwayne De Rosario on Sept. 27,2003 for San Jose in a win against Dallas. Three of the seven fastest goals in MLS history have all been scored this season.
  • Cahill also scored goals less than a minute apart over back-to-back matches. His goal seven minutes into second-half stoppage time to secure the 2-2 draw with New England on Oct. 5 was the fourth-latest goal scored in regulation in MLS history – and then followed by the fastest goal in league annals.
  • Cahill has now scored goals in three consecutive games, and has seven goals over his last 10 appearances, since July 13.
  • With David Carney unavailable with a right calf injury, Brandon Barklage lined out at an unfamiliar left back role, Markus Holgersson slotted in at right back and Ibrahim Sekagya came into central defense.
  • With Fabian Espindola also injured, Peguy Luyindula shifted back into an attacking central midfield role with Tim Cahill partnering Thierry Henry in attack.
  • After coming off the substitutes’ bench for back-to-back matches, Eric Alexander returned to the starting lineup, coming in on the right side of midfield for Lloyd Sam.
  • “This is the deepest team I’ve ever been on in my career,” said midfielder Dax McCarty. “I think the results speak for themselves, [especially] when you have four or five new guys in the lineup. They stepped up and played great.”

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire won their third match in a row, defeating Toronto FC 1-0 on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium. . The Fire are in a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with 49 points from 33 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came after the Fire received a penalty kick in the 63rd minute when Mike Magee's free kick struck Jonathan Osorio's arm as he manned TFC's wall inside the 18-yard-box and referee Edvin Jurisevic pointed to the spot. Magee chipped the resulting spot kick past TFC Stefan Frei, who went diving the other way.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that defeated FC Dallas 3-2 at Toyota Stadium. Arevalo Rios returned from international duty, replacing Alex.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Bakary Soumare, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Patrick Nyarko (Logan Pause 88), Arevalo Rios (Alex 60), Jeff Larentowicz, Dilly Duka (Chris Rolfe 76) - Juan Luis Anangono, Mike Magee.

TEAM NEWS

  • With a victory vs. New York, the Fire will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs. They will also clinch a place if New England and/or Houston fail to win.
  • “The team stuck together,” Klopas said. “All of those games, even adversity in the beginning, made us a better team. I think you get better through difficult moments, and I think this team right now is better in that sense than the team that I had last year, winning 17 games. …We're just excited to have the opportunity to play another game because one day going by without soccer is not good for us.”
  • Said Patrick Nyarko: “I always think back to last year when we clinched early and we took our concentration off a little bit and that didn't help us going into the playoffs. This momentum we're building, [we're] keeping our concentration focused.”
  • Mike Magee scored his 20th goal, remaining in a tie for the leadership in the MLS Golden Boot standings, with Montréal’s Marco Di Vaio, the 11th and 12th players in MLS history to score 20 or more goals in a season.
  • “I'm in my city, the city that I love and hearing them chant [MVP] with my family in the stands is huge. Having said that, I know what's really at stake and it's not an MVP award or a Golden Boot Award, or any other award, it's about getting to the playoffs and knowing anything can happen from there,” said Magee. “It feels good, don't get me wrong, but to be honest it's the last thing on my mind.”
  • Magee has scored 14 of his goals since coming to the Fire in an early-season trade from the LA Galaxy.
  • “I think with Mike the most important thing is helping the team win, regardless of if he scores or not. That’s the kind of competitor he is,” said Klopas. “Obviously his performance on the field and what he’s done to be able to change our team since he’s been here – he definitely has to be considered [as MLS MVP]. He’s had a big impact with our team and I think he for sure deserves the award because I’m his coach. I hope he gets it but he’s definitely been a huge part to get our team to the point where it is right now.”
  • It was a second shutout for the Fire in three games. Over the first 30 league games of the season, the Fire had just four shutouts.
  • "I thought the guys in front of me did a fantastic job tonight,” said goalkeeper Sean Johnson. “They were organized, one the same page, communication was there and the most important thing is that we came away with three points and that's what we were looking to do tonight. … We're trying to make the playoffs and shutouts, if they're not wins in some games, don't help get you into the playoffs. We need to keep doing our jobs.”
  • After missing a match while on international duty with Uruguay, Arevalo Rios returned to the starting lineup. Fellow central midfielder Jeff Larentowicz will miss the season finale through suspension.
  • “Jeff is a veteran player but we rely on the team. We’ve talked about this since the beginning and I think there are moments in the season where you’re going to rely on everyone. Jeff has been fantastic for us but other guys will step in and get the job done,” said Klopas.